Litter Box Dermatitis

Litter Box Dermatitis – Everything You Must Know

Skin problems like dermatitis are among the most typical troubles for our four-legged friends.

And just so you know, this skin problem can be caused by a variety of diseases, with allergies being the number one culprit.

While our feline friends can suffer from allergies due to the food they eat and the environment they live in, they can also have an allergic reaction to parasites and the bites of fleas.

Read on to find everything you need to know about litter box dermatitis.

What causes litter box dermatitis?

There are many reasons why your cat will suddenly start itching uncontrollably.

While the most likely cause of dermatitis in cats is an allergy to fleabites, allergens trapped in your cat’s litter box can also trigger severe itching in your cat, making both your lives difficult.

Some cats are extremely sensitive to fleabites that a single bite is enough to provoke severe skin reactions.

And besides fleabites, litter box dermatitis can also indicate an allergy that is closely related to your cat’s diet.

Although it rarely happens, contact dermatitis or contact allergies is also another possibility that should not be ignored until a complete diagnosis is carried out to determine the primary cause of your cat’s litter box dermatitis.

Outside some of the factors we have highlighted so far, mites, nutritional deficiencies, lice, infectious and immune-mediated diseases can also trigger litter box dermatitis.

What are the symptoms of litter box dermatitis?

Litter box dermatitis in cats causes severe and uncontrollable itching, which leaves your cats feeling miserable all day long.

That said, here are other classic signs of litter box dermatitis you should look out for if you suspect that your cat has an allergic reaction:

  • Severe itching, especially around the feet and face
  • Red bumps and scaly areas
  • Frequent shaking of the head
  • Foul odour
  • Darkened skin that appears a little thicker than usual
  • Stained fur due to continued licking
  • Thinning or loss of hair.

Litter box dermatitis diagnosis/treatment

If you notice that your feline friend is scratching incessantly, it’s time to visit your veterinarian for prompt treatment.

And because litter box dermatitis can also be caused by conditions other than allergies, your vet may rule out other possible causes such as bacteria or fungal infections, parasites, and systemic diseases.

Your doctor may also recommend a series of tests, including a thorough physical examination for external parasites like mites and fleas.

Skin tests may also be carried out to rule out bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections.

Other tests like blood and urinalysis will be recommended if your doctor suspects that your cat has a systemic disease.

After all the relevant tests have been conducted, and it’s been discovered that your cat has allergies, your veterinarian will move further to find out under which category they fall: food allergies, environmental allergies, and fleas allergies.

How is litter box dermatitis treated?

Treatment for litter box dermatitis usually involves eliminating the offending irritant or allergen and reducing the cat’s clinical symptoms.

For a start, your veterinarian may recommend a flea preventive if he/she suspects that your cat is suffering from flea allergy.

Although live fleas are rarely seen to perch on cats, due to their fastidious grooming habits, their eggs can linger in your cat’s body for months, causing serious itching.

When lice or mites are suspected to be the culprit for your cat’s litter box dermatitis, your veterinarian will recommend medicated baths or sprays to get rid of these parasites.

In case of a suspected food allergy, a hypoallergenic food trial may be on the cards.

To provide some relief to your cat, your veterinarian may prescribe an an-inflammatory drug-like corticosteroid to reduce the constant itching and allow your feline friend to feel comfortable while the treatment takes effect.

Other essential treatment options may include the prescription of antihistamines, essential fatty acids, and cyclosporine.

How to prevent cat litter box dermatitis

While there are minimal options for preventing allergic dermatitis, we have discovered that treatment is very effective when the type of allergy has been determined.

Also, checking your cat now and then for fleas and looking out for telltale signs such as itching and excessive grooming will help you figure out just in time if your cat is suffering an allergic reaction.

Once you suspect that your cat may be having skin allergies, reach out to your veterinarian right away for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Remember that if you have any questions or concerns, you should not hesitate to visit or call your veterinarian as they are your best bet when it comes to ensuring your cat’s overall well-being.

Frequently asked questions

How do you get rid of dermatitis in cats?

Litter box dermatitis can make your cat miserable, and that’s no thanks to the excessive itching that comes with this condition.

But guess what, your four-legged friend can benefit from a host of tropical treatments, including medicated shampoos, cool baths, and soothing sprays.

If your cat is exhibiting mild allergies, using antihistamines or omega-3 fatty acids will significantly provide relief.

However, more severe cases may require the use of strong medications such as prednisone or allergy shots.

Why does my cat have scabs all over his body?

Fleas, lice, and mites are the primary cause of scabs in cats.

And whether or not your cat is allergic to blood-sucking pests, bugs, or fleas, these parasites can cause severe scabbing and bleeding when they bite your pet.

Should you notice scabs on your feline friend, do well to check for any type of parasites immediately.

How long does flea dermatitis take to heal?

Flea dermatitis in cats can be challenging to treat, especially if the condition isn’t diagnosed early.

But once treatment kicks in, your cat should begin to enjoy some relief after a couple of days.

That said, it may take up to 2-3 months for flea dermatitis to fully heal.


Litter box dermatitis is among the many allergies that our four-legged friends experience from time to time.

Sadly, this condition can be caused by various factors, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and flea allergies.

If you suspect that your cat may have skin allergies, please visit your veterinarian for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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